by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
A hard act to follow
When it comes to point and click adventure games, the Monkey Island series rates highly among adventure game aficionados. With the combination of humor, great visuals and puzzling brainteasers, the games have stood the test of time and are still enjoyable long after their release. The series was recently re-born in last year’s episodic series – Tales of Monkey Island. Normally, I wouldn’t mention other games when reviewing a new title, but with Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island (from here on referred to as Ghost Pirates), the link between this new title and the old Monkey Island series is simply unmistakable and just can’t be overlooked.
The game begins with a lively introduction video, setting the scene. The three playable characters have, after hearing an evil plot by Greenbeard the pirate to overthrown the pirate king Captain Flint, been apprehended by the voodoo Queen Zimbi and killed. It appears though, that these unfortunate souls are in fact not completely dead, and are now disembodied spirits. It is up to Papa Doc, Jane Starling and Blue Belly – as the game’s heroes – to get back their bodies, save the pirate king from death and deal with the conniving Queen Zimbi.
Ghost Pirates uses a simple control system that after playing for a little while is very intuitive. I must admit though that it did take me a bit of time to fully get the hang of. The game is largely controlled by the left mouse button. Clicking (well, holding actually) the button brings up a skull image with three available options – examine, talk or use (which is context sensitive). Getting used to holding the button rather than simply clicking was my main issue to begin with, but like I mentioned after a bit of playing it works extremely well. The right mouse button is used to bring up the inventory screen. The great thing about the inventory screen is that within it, you can communicate with the other two members of your party. Certain characters will have more knowledge of certain items in your inventory. When this occurs, it is simply a matter of selecting the item and then moving it onto one of the other non-controlled characters.
And this works well for the most part. I did encounter a couple issues with this regard when it came to the puzzles. On some occasions, I was left scratching my head as to how a certain object was supposed to be used. It was only after consulting with the other non-controlled characters that it became apparent as to how the object was to be used. I guess that the system requires thinking outside of the square sometimes, and I suppose that is not a bad thing.
The puzzles as a whole though, are not overly daunting. Ghost Pirates does not have you searching everywhere for tiny objects that are required to solve the puzzles. Instead there are hotspots on screen that are used to designate key objects in the game. It is then just simply a matter of working out how the items all fit together as is the case with adventure games.
Bright and colorful
There wouldn’t be any difficulty in searching for objects though as the game is filled with lush vibrant colors. The characters are well rendered in a cartoon style and each of the main characters has their own unique appearance. Papa-Doc is a tall voodoo master and fits the stereotypical mould – well-dressed (complete with top hat), face paint and shrunken head idol. Blue Belly is a typical short overweight pirate. He is a jolly fellow with a good heart. Jane Starling is possibly the token female character. She is a beautiful buxom woman (actually most of the female characters in the game have large assets) who is loyal to the pirate king Captain Flint. The background settings are bright and colorful too. They vary from tropical island towns to underground lairs and the inside of what seems to be a volcano.
Listen to the sea shanties
Audio is superb. The game contains plenty of spoken dialogue. Each of the main characters are further stereotyped with their accents. Papa-Doc has a deep Jamaican-style accent, whilst Blue Belly has a Scottish accent reminiscent of Shrek. The lovely Jane Starling has a beautiful Spanish accent, although I found this a little strange since Starling is more of an English sounding surname. The other non-playable characters too, each have their own style, from the whining bride-to-be Muriel to the daft sounding barflys waiting for their rum to arrive. The background music does a great job of setting the pirate theme. There are plenty of pirate sea shanties that get the gamer in the pirate mood.
Ghost Pirates certainly has plenty of things going for it. Of course, comparisons to the Monkey Island series will be made, but this is certainly a game of its own. Sure there are definite similarities between the Adventures games, but they play quite differently. Indeed, the latest Monkey Island series was an episodic release, whilst Ghost Pirates comes complete right from the start. And the game will take more than a few hours to complete, even if you can work out all the puzzles straight away. The humor, as well as the storyline, keeps the game interesting the whole way through. Many of the puzzles don’t have to be solved in a linear fashion, meaning that if you do get frustrated with some puzzles, you can head off in a different direction and attempt to solve a different mystery, which is always a welcome aspect. So if you love adventure games in the mould of the Monkey island series, you will definitely enjoy Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island.
The visuals are bright and colourful and the audio is superb.
Very similar to the Monkey island series…is it simply a cheap copy?